(Cardboard Appreciation Week rolls along. Today is "National Fried Chicken Day." Mmmmmm. My favorite meal on earth is fried or grilled chicken, macaroni salad and deviled eggs. Fantastic. Also, fantastic: Cardboard Appreciation. This is the 151st in a series):
Wow, the name of this card is a mouthful, isn't it? Remember when you could simply say "it's from this year's Topps"?
This card arrived in my most recent Check Out My Cards purchase, the contents of which you will see in greater detail next week. I obtained this card because when a card makes you laugh out loud when you first see it, you must buy it. This is a collecting rule. Write it down.
The reason I laughed is because Panini is desperately attempting to make Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp look tough -- intimidating and dangerous -- while they are wearing their Underoos.
Panini is not for me. They have made some ghastly cards so far. Yet, because they are "current," some collectors who only deal in the "here and now" seem to feel obligated to take them seriously. I can't take them seriously.
But it's not necessarily because Panini is an unlicensed product featuring players capless or in their skivvies.
It's the way they go about it.
Those of you who are old enough, remember NFL trading cards in the 1970s?
I collected NFL cards off and on between 1976-80. Most of my football collecting was done in 1977 and 1979. To this day, I absolutely adore the 1977 Topps football set and wish I had never gotten rid of the cards I had from that set.
Topps did not have a license to feature NFL logos for a good portion of the '70s and '80s, including during the period in which I collected football cards. Because of this they were forced to feature players that were either ...
Without a helmet ...
With logos airbrushed (I had this card. I sure did love it) ...
And you know what? We didn't care. We didn't EVEN NOTICE.
Nothing seemed strange or odd. Oh, maybe there was a little puzzlement way back in our kid brains somewhere. But it was overwhelmed by the sense of how cool the cards were.
We weren't turned off. I took a little break from football cards the following year, but then in 1979, I was right back again.
I still thought the cards looked terrific, even with airbrushing going on all over the place.
But I think Topps went about it in the right way.
They didn't haul players into a studio and force them into dorky poses underneath hot lights. They didn't tell them to "look bad-ass" even though the uniform is a big-time bad-ass element, and all the player was wearing was a T-shirt and some slacks.
Topps merely did what they did for baseball, a sport in which they did have a license. They took photos of the players on the sidelines or in game action or without a helmet and hoped for the best. And it worked.
Would it work again if Panini took that same tactic instead of the forced glamour shots?
I don't know. These are different times.
For one, I'm not a kid anymore. I have adult tastes. And one of those tastes is that I've got to see a cap on a ballplayer. Also, since I've become super analytical, I don't know if I could just brush off or not notice the absence of logos.
Then, there's the big one. Panini doesn't even have the right to mention the name of the team on its cards. The Kershaw-Kemp card just says "Los Angeles Baseball Club." I think, even as a kid, I would notice it if the card said "Atlanta football" instead of "Falcons."
So maybe there is too much to overcome. But I think it's worth a try.
When I look at those '70s NFL cards I think, "those aren't half bad. I like them."
My reaction isn't to laugh out loud.
So there's your objective, Panini. Try to get people not to laugh when they look at your cards.
Then again, this card made me laugh out loud, too. And you know what?
I want to buy it.